What are some tips for improving fuel economy from a maintenance and driver perspective?

Aug. 17, 2010

Q: Are there some tips available to me about improving our fleet fuel economy from a maintenance perspective as well as from a driver prospective?

A: Here are a few pointers I used effectively in the fleets I managed both private and the leasing business. 

All engine manufacturers have increased fuel pressures to help meet emission limits. When it comes to filters I recommend sticking with the OEM for at least the fuel filters. I have found the aftermarket people not keeping up with the required fuel flow ratings of the engine for optimum performance and fuel economy. It is also recommended to utilize a high flow rated fuel filter especially in Winter because as the fuel filter gets dirty your flow rating drops and so does the engine performance. The flow rating drops even quicker if operators are not draining the separator as required. The extra expense will quickly be returned with better engine performance and fuel economy. 

I have found air filter restriction gauges to perform as stated but, do not move if there is no restriction. I have found too many times air filters with bonding material missing from manufacturing or holes in the filters from operators trying to clean out themselves for...what they think is more power. Restriction gauges will not register in these scenarios.  After much testing I found air filter replacement in Spring and Fall much easier to manage and we did see a return on investment with better fuel mileage annually. Much easier program to mange than worrying if technicians are actually looking at the restriction gauges.

I believe you are running Caterpillar engines. If you are running a fuel water separator check into Caterpillar recall number NAT-PR-3. It has expired for about two years now. C-15 and other engines require at least 100 GPH fuel flow rating for optimum engine performance. The fuel filter bases spoke about in this recall did not meet these requirements and a lost in performance and fuel mileage was recorded.

When it comes to tires to help with fuel economy and performance...keep the higher tread tires to the curb side of the road. The highway naturally is higher from the center to the curb side of the road. This will equalize the load run on all tires extending their life and lower rolling resistance. Keep the higher drive tires to the back axle again equalizing the load, lowering rolling resistance and lowering drive line wear by keeping proper angles on the driveline. Your probably running retreads so do not run soft wall casings such as Michelin with a hard wall casing such as a Goodyear. The Goodyear will be scrubbed very quickly as it does not move as the Michelin casing does. Again, rolling resistance and load equalization is also affected.

If you do not have a driver fuel savings bonus program in place...try one. I have heard from many fleets they do work and rewards the operator for efficient driving habits returning better fuel economy. This also helps to lower cost of ownership as there is less abuse to the unit lowering maintenance expenses.

Hope this helps, my friend.

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